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A second year medical student from Cardiff University has been awarded a £500 prize for overcoming the odds to study medicine.
Nadia Youssef moved to the UK from Oman when she was 13 years old to do her GCSEs. She spoke very little English at the time and after re-sitting her exams, achieved an A grade in English language. Nadia studied chemistry, biology and maths at A-Level and despite her GCSE success, found the scientific language barrier hard to break down. She failed her chemistry and biology AS exams and with this, received no offers for medical school. Perseverance prevailed and at the end of her A Levels, Nadia finished with an A*, two As and two B grades. Despite this, she had no medical school offers and no places at her first choice universities.
After attending a UCAS convention, Nadia found out about the Medical Sciences course at The University of South Wales, a feeder stream into the Cardiff University School of Medicine, and hasn’t looked back.
Nadia said: “After being rejected, I was crushed because I worked very hard on my GCSEs and A Levels. I thought that my medical career was over before it had even started.”
Speaking of Nadia’s determination, Lewis Fall, Leader of the Medical Sciences course at USW, said: “Nadia was a wonderful student. She finished at the top of her class in years one and two, and graduated top of her class. She served as her class representative, student voice representative and student ambassador on all recruitment events. As I write this, Nadia is actually in the building, running a workshop to prepare our current students for their medical interviews, which means I can even say that she is a wonderful alumnus!”
After completing her Medical Studies course, Nadia had interviews from every medical school she applied to and accepted a place at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, where she entered year two of the five year course. Lewis added: “She is another wonderful example of why these feeder streams exist. She would have been lost to medicine without widening access and I am very glad we found her!”
In recognition of her overcoming the odds to study medicine, Nadia has now been awarded BMA Cymru Wales’ Sherman Fund Award, which encourages wider access to medical studies within Wales. She was presented with her prize at the BMA Cymru Wales / BMJ Clinical Teacher of the Year Awards 2017, held at the National Museum of Wales on Wednesday 29 March 2017.
Speaking of her win, Nadia said:
“It is a great honour to be nominated for this wonderful award, because it acknowledges the hard work that non-traditional medical students put in. It certainly isn’t something I expected back in 2008 when my family moved to this country from Oman and I couldn’t speak English at all. Or in 2013, when I was rejected by various medical schools.”
Reflecting of her journey into medicine, Nadia added: “I am very much enjoying my second year of medical school and I feel that this nomination has given me an extra boost, which I definitely need before the end of year exams.
“I hope that my story, as well as the stories of many other graduate entry medical students, will motivate others to always follow their dreams and do whatever it takes to achieve them.”